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Old October 16, 2011, 08:26 PM   #1
oldluke
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What safe, what safe?

I need some collective help, so here it is: I need a safe for 12 or so handguns, 3-5 rifles, documents, cameras, passports, jewelry stuff like that.

The logic location would be the basement, but we have radiant heat in there so am very worried by the bolting, which it's way too risky to do on the floor.

So am looking for a good safe which can be either used upstairs or bolted to the wall through holes in the back.

Somebody recommended me a Dakota, but then the dealer itself told me it was a cheap Chinese thing that would not keep a thief out for more than a few minutes.

Thoughts, recommendations?
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Old October 16, 2011, 08:35 PM   #2
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The problem is that most gun safes are not really designed to store all of those items, unless in very small amounts. If you have valuables, they need to go into a safe designed to protect valuables.

When I get these calls, I usually suggest a smaller safe designed for the important stuff, and a less expensive gun safe for the guns themselves.
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Old October 17, 2011, 10:22 AM   #3
LaCane
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Buy a sturdy Safe. You will not be dissapointed. Research their web site and google their name. If you find anything negative, chances are it is not from a customer but rather from a competitor or someone who wished they had purchased one but found out too late their mistake.
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Old October 17, 2011, 01:59 PM   #4
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Buy a sturdy Safe. You will not be dissapointed. Research their web site and google their name. If you find anything negative, chances are it is not from a customer but rather from a competitor or someone who wished they had purchased one but found out too late their mistake.
Sturdy is a gun safe manufacturer. They do not build anything that would classify as a "real safe", and do not offer anything with UL fire or burglary labels.

Each situation is different, and a Sturdy safe may be fine for an average gun collection. However, they are not the best choice when it comes to a fire rated safe for documents, or a safe designed to protect valuables from burglary.

There are plenty of competitors that will say bad things simply for the opportunity to say bad things. There are also some "bad things" that simply may be the truth, and spoken by somebody who knows what they're talking about.
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Old October 17, 2011, 08:19 PM   #5
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+1 for Sturdy. As a1abdj said, they don't qualify as being a "real safe" (I.e., TL rated) but ... most of us don't need a 4000 to 6000Lbs gun safe. And Sturdy has a design that is nearly impossible to pry open so unless the crook has power tools or a torch available, he likely won't be able to get in with anything else.

Sturdy will make a gun safe to fit your needs. If you want a 5ga steel body (0.2043" thick) and add additional 7ga reinforcing plates on sides that will be accessible to an attacker, you can do that without adding much to the price or weight of the safe for that matter. Again probably an overkill for most applications but it will add time for cutting into the safe which might allow for an alarm system to get a response.

On fire protection: what Sturdy uses for their fire liner is the same material used in the structures with the highest fire rating that UL gives, there is no higher fire rating. That material is ceramic fiber which is used in UL 125F-4 hour media vaults.http://www.firelock.com/overview1.htm These ceramic lined vaults are able to keep the temperature under 125F with a four hour ramp up time where the temperature applied to the exterior of the vault reaches around 2000F then allowed to slowly cool down for what might take days. This design not only protects sensitive digital media applications from high heat but also the damaging effect of humidity (drywall and concrete release moisture when exposed to high heat.) As you can see from Firelock's website, their vaults also protect some of the most valuable documents, art pieces, musical instruments etc there are which shows the confidence the owners and insurance companies have in the design. Again, highest fire rating UL gives is on a ceramic lined media vault which is what Sturdy uses in their gun safes.

As you can see from Sturdy's website, they have some examples of customers with complete burndowns to their homes and the contents of their safes (including paper and plastic) suffered no damage at all ... none (Sturdy will gladly give you contact information to the owner of the safes on their website as well as the firemen who witnessed the opening of the safes.)http://www.sturdysafe.com/fireliner.htm Yes some might say "why don't they have a UL fire rating then". Well apparently the UL test is very expensive (I think I read around $25,000 each test) and only applies for a particular size safe; since they are a small family owned company, they would not be able to get their investment back in increased sales.

Anyway, another big recommendation for Sturdy.
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Old October 17, 2011, 09:55 PM   #6
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There's really no need to get into it here, but I have already had the discussion of why ceramic insulation is not used as the primary insulation in any safe with a legitimate fire rating (since we're not talking about vaults with hundreds or thousands of cubic feet of air inside of them). Don't believe the hype. The only companies using ceramic insulations as the primary insulators on their safes are a few gun safe manufacturers.

Keep your guns in a gun safe. If you need fireproofing, you want to be using a safe with a UL (or foreign equal) fire rating. If you need burglary protection, you need a safe that has steel measured in something other than gauge.

Sturdy makes a fine gun safe, for your average gun collection.
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Old October 17, 2011, 10:42 PM   #7
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MMM...I may be wrong in my thinking here, but what would YOU recommend as the safe to get for someone who is looking for protection from fire and or burglary for something better than the "average collection" as you put it?...
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Old October 17, 2011, 11:09 PM   #8
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MMM...I may be wrong in my thinking here, but what would YOU recommend as the safe to get for someone who is looking for protection from fire and or burglary for something better than the "average collection" as you put it?...
In most residential cases, it is best to use different safes that are designed for the specific task as opposed to one large safe that is designed to do it all. The larger safes tend to be very heavy, as well as expensive.

If you're talking about a valuable collection that must go into a single larger unit, then it would depend on the value of the contents.

At the lower end you have B rate safes, then C rate, then E rate (TL-15, 15 minute tool rating), then F rate (TL-30, 30 minute tool rating). There aren't many companies that offer these types of safes.

Myself, Brown, and Graffunder offer standard production gun safes that meet most of these rating levels. All of them will have a cast fill for the primary fire protection, and steel up to 1.5" thick. AMSEC also offers a composite TL-30 set up as a gun safe. It will offer 30 minutes of burglary protection and 2 hours of fire protection.

Myself, and a few other companies will also retrofit commercial safes with gun safe interiors if needed. There are all sorts of safes on the commercial side. Keep in mind that gun safes make up a very small percentage of the overall safe market. If you think there are a lot of gun safe choices, you would be shocked at the commercial offerings.
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Old October 18, 2011, 06:53 PM   #9
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Quote:
There's really no need to get into it here, but I have already had the discussion of why ceramic insulation is not used as the primary insulation in any safe with a legitimate fire rating (since we're not talking about vaults with hundreds or thousands of cubic feet of air inside of them). Don't believe the hype. The only companies using ceramic insulation as the primary insulators on their safes are a few gun safe manufacturers.
With all do respect a1abdj, your statement is not true. The engineer in charge of fire rating safes at UL didn't agree with your view. Here is a quote from an earlier thread from the archives of TheFiringLine.

Quote:
Sturdy Gun Safe, Mfg
January 10, 2011, 07:34 PM
a1abdj#42: Cast insulations do a better job of protecting contents against fire. It's not just my opinion. It's the opinion of UL, the major safe manufacturers, and although I can't speak for everybody, most of us in the business.

When it comes to fire protection in safes, we feel, ceramic is way more effective than cast insulations . UL AGREES WITH US.

No one needs to take our word, or any other salesmans word for it, just contact people who would know. In this case, it would be Michael B. K**** (Customer Service Engineer Elements with Underwriters Laboratories Inc. aka "the man to actually ask these questions to"). 877-854-3577 ext. *****

When I asked Michael if he thought your statement quoted above is true when it came to cast vs. ceramic insulations, he said NO.
I asked Michael if there really are safes lined with ceramic with a UL Fire/Class# rating on them, and he said YES.
When I asked Michael if he could give the name and other details of these UL Fire/Class# safes lined with ceramic, he said he couldn't give out that info, and said I would need to contact the safe manufacturers direct so they could tell me what they used.
Portland cement based cast or concrete products aren't in themselves very good insulators against heat. It takes a very low density aggregate such as Perlite or Vermiculite and/or an aeration process to reduce the density in order to reduce the natural heat conducting properties of Portland cement.
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Old October 18, 2011, 07:24 PM   #10
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Oldluke,

Didn't mean to hijack your thread so back to your original question. There are certainly many nice used TL rated safes that could be had for a pretty good price but it sounds like an extremely heavy safe isn't the best choice for your situation. So I agree with LaCane's recommendation going with Sturdy Safe. Just checking their website, a fire lined 27"Wx23"Dx60"H safe with an upgraded 5ga steel body and an additional stainless steel plate over the lockbox is $2383 delivered to your garage. I would also add a small inexpensive document safe to put inside to hold important documents just to make absolutely sure you won't lose any important paper materials in a fire.

Good luck
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Old October 18, 2011, 07:36 PM   #11
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Quote:
With all do respect a1abdj, your statement is not true.
Yes, it's quite true, and common sense will prove it to anybody who wants to do some looking around.

Quote:
The engineer in charge of fire rating safes at UL didn't agree with your view. Here is a quote from an earlier thread from the archives of TheFiringLine.
He claims he said no such thing when I spoke with him. He said UL had no official position, as they were merely a third party testing agency. He also would not disclose any details regarding any material that any manufacturer was using in the products submitted to UL.

Quote:
Portland cement based cast or concrete products aren't in themselves very good insulators against heat. It takes a very low density aggregate such as Perlite or Vermiculite and/or an aeration process to reduce the density in order to reduce the natural heat conducting properties of Portland cement.
What exactly makes you such an expert on safes and their fire resistant properties?

The proof is easy to see. Every UL rated fire safe, thousands of makes and models, use cast insulations to achieve their ratings. Not one of them, nobody has been able to point towards one, that uses ceramics as its primary insulator.

Quote:
fire lined 27"Wx23"Dx60"H safe with an upgraded 5ga steel body and an additional stainless steel plate over the lockbox is $2383 delivered to your garage.
And if you think that's a good deal, you should check out the B rated safe that I have available. The 60" x 31" x 21" safe that has 1/4" worth of steel in the body (25% more steel than 5 gauge) and 1/2" worth of steel in the door for around $1900 delivered to your garage. It has a cast fill, and weighs in at about 1,100 pounds. Much more safe, for about $500 less.
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Last edited by a1abdj; October 18, 2011 at 07:41 PM.
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Old October 19, 2011, 05:09 AM   #12
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And if you think that's a good deal, you should check out the B rated safe that I have available. The 60" x 31" x 21" safe that has 1/4" worth of steel in the body (25% more steel than 5 gauge) and 1/2" worth of steel in the door for around $1900 delivered to your garage. It has a cast fill, and weighs in at about 1,100 pounds. Much more safe, for about $500 less.
Well for one your safe is Chinese made which makes a difference to a lot of us. The 1/4" on the body isn't a 1/4" plate but two sheets of 1/8" which as you know makes a big difference to a fire ax. The door is also a cumulative rating as well. If we are going with cumulative ratings then include the 14ga inner (0.0781") on the Sturdy giving them over 1/4" of steel on the body. Also Sturdy has a lifetime warranty against fire and theft and I know the tolerances on that Chinese safe won't be in the same league as the Sturdy.
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Old October 19, 2011, 09:41 AM   #13
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Well for one your safe is Chinese made which makes a difference to a lot of us.
Not that I'm a big fan of China, but what difference does it make? Are you buying a safe to protect assets, or are you buying it to make a political statement? Do burglars in the US only attack US made safes? I may be wrong, but I don't believe fires or burglars care where a safe is made.

I sell safes from all over the world. I sell safes built better than the Sturdy from several other countries. If you have a preference on country of origin, I can probably accomodate.

Speaking of China for a second. I haven't seen many people that aren't using goods made in China, or who knows where else. What is it about gun safes in particular that gets you worked up? In addition, there are several US companies selling Chinese gun safes that fib/stretch the truth or whatever you want to call it regarding the country of origin. I can't tell you how many people have bought "Made in America Liberty Safes" that were made in China. The biggest offender is probably the "Made In America" Patriot safes. I just tend to be a little more truthful than most.

Quote:
The 1/4" on the body isn't a 1/4" plate but two sheets of 1/8" which as you know makes a big difference to a fire ax.
The problem is it's not just two sheets of steel. It's two sheets of steel filled with a "concrete" mix. Did you know that most modern day bank vault doors are 12 gauge stainless sheets filled with a "concrete" mix. Are you saying that you can swing an axe through a bank vault door?

The steel is not the only factor. That aside, your average gun safe is 12 gauge. 11 gauge is coming more into vogue, and many of your big name safes are 11 gauge. 10 gauge is usually considered "heavy" as far as most gun safes go, and this safe has two layers of it. My safe offers well over twice the protection than just about anything else in its price range.

Quote:
The door is also a cumulative rating as well.
Yes it is. Everything is "cumulative" when it comes to security. Layers if you will. Even a basic gun safe door is cumulative. Why is that a negative?

Let's look at a typical gun safe. You have an outer layer of steel, usually a sheet of gypsum board, an inner steel door liner, a hard plate around the lock, the steel bridge that mounts the lock, the lock, then the relocker. That's cumulative.

My door is also cumulative, except there's a lot more steel in the door. If you really must know, this is a design used in safe construction to help thwart pry attacks.

Quote:
If we are going with cumulative ratings then include the 14ga inner (0.0781") on the Sturdy giving them over 1/4" of steel on the body.
My safe still has the "concrete" which offers additional burglary resistance, and in the opinion of just about every safe manufacturer in the world, better fire resistance. That fire protection isn't just an option, and is included in the price.

Quote:
Also Sturdy has a lifetime warranty against fire and theft
Gun safe manufacturers love their safe warranties.

Your homeowners or renters policy will also cover any safe you own against fire and theft. Since you would likely be making a claim with them anyway, why not just add the safe to the claim?

Insurance companies also tend to be easier to deal with, as they don't mess around with the small details. They will cover the entire loss. This would include opening your old safe, removing it, disposing of it, the new safe, bringing it in, and installing it.

Let's compare carpet to safes. If the carpet manufacturer offered a similar warranty they would ship you a new roll of carpet. Perhaps they would want the old carpet back. Depending on the company, you may have to pay freight on the carpet.

Your homeowners insurance doesn't just give you a roll of carpet to replace the damaged carpet. They tear the old carpet out, buy you new carpet, and have a professional install it. It's no different with safes.

Quote:
and I know the tolerances on that Chinese safe won't be in the same league as the Sturdy.
You know that? How do you know that?

I will tell you that my safe started out as a commercial design. There are some features that are similar to those that Sturdy offers. When it comes to gun safes, it's built very well. It surpasses the Sturdy in several areas.

I'll keep it simple though. My safes offer a lot more safe for the money. More steel. More weight. More burglary protection. Fire protection included. Less Money. And this is only my opinion, but I think they look nicer than the Sturdy.
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Last edited by a1abdj; October 19, 2011 at 10:41 AM.
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Old October 19, 2011, 10:07 AM   #14
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Where i live most gun thefts are done by paramilitaries. They force their way into your house and put a gun to your head and threaten to shoot you if you dont open your gun safe. So it doesn't really mater how good your safe is. Example below.

(Two men questioned over the theft of legally held guns during two raids in west Belfast have been released without charge.

A man was shot in the leg in front of his nine-year old daughter when he refused to hand over a weapon at Larkspur Rise near the Suffolk Road area on Wednesday night.

He is recovering from his injuries which have left his two other children, aged 13 and 12, deeply traumatised.

Two members of the gang wore balaclavas, while the third had a scarf over his face.



Less than an hour later, three men forced a householder to hand over guns at a house in the Ballymurphy Road area.

The men, aged 34 and 30, were released without charge on Friday.

A car was also recovered and police are investigating a link between the two robberies.


© UTV News.
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Old October 19, 2011, 06:32 PM   #15
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Quote:
Where i live most gun thefts are done by paramilitaries. They force their way into your house and put a gun to your head and threaten to shoot you if you dont open your gun safe. So it doesn't really mater how good your safe is. Example below.

(Two men questioned over the theft of legally held guns during two raids in west Belfast have been released without charge.

A man was shot in the leg in front of his nine-year old daughter when he refused to hand over a weapon at Larkspur Rise near the Suffolk Road area on Wednesday night.

He is recovering from his injuries which have left his two other children, aged 13 and 12, deeply traumatised.

Two members of the gang wore balaclavas, while the third had a scarf over his face.

Less than an hour later, three men forced a householder to hand over guns at a house in the Ballymurphy Road area.

The men, aged 34 and 30, were released without charge on Friday.
Wow Manta49, that's pretty harsh.
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Old October 19, 2011, 08:46 PM   #16
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I guess there were several reasons why I chose the sturdy. The quality of the product met the criteria that I personally felt comfortable with. While Sturdy safes are not the fanciest to look at, they have a certain "feel" to them that none of the other brands I looked at had. I know the differences between the USA built vs foreign built safes (even under the same company name) as well as the fact that some manufacturers just insult the intelligence of their customers with their products and claims, while others just did not pass the ultimate test...that being the court of public opinion. Sturdy safes were the only one to distinguish themselves apart with their honesty, truthfullness, quality of product, and something else missing in todays market; the personal interaction between the owners and Joe Blow customer calling up on the phone. When I called and talked to both the owner and his daughter (the ones on their videos) they went above and beyond being helpful. I felt like I was talking to the guy down the street I've known for years. So yes, while there may be other "real safe" manufactures as they like to call themselves out there, I believe Sturdy Safe Co. will be filling the needs of many gun collectors and enthusiasts for quite awhile as they continue to deliver a high quality product coupled with reasonable costs and unprecidented customer service.
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Old October 19, 2011, 10:02 PM   #17
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That's the same business philosophy that I use, and it has worked well over the years. The only difference is that I have a lot more on my plate. I'm not simply building safes or selling safes. I'm working on them, restoring them, installing them, etc.

Even though I have customers spending six figures with me at a time, I probably spend more time on the phone, and here on the forums, educating people on gun safes.

Why? Gun safe buyers are probably the most mislead group of safe buyers out there. I'm a gun collector and shooter as well, and figure if I can save anybody the anguish of loosing their assets to a theft or fire, it's time well spent.

In the end, it doesn't matter how nice I am, or how nice anybody else is on the phone. There are plenty of used car salesmen that come across as nice and sincere. Don't take my word for it, and don't take their word for it. Take what you hear, then go do a little more research using that information as a guide. That way you'll end up making an educated decision.
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